Electrically tunable directional light scattering from soft thin membranes

Published on 2020-06-29T16:04:33Z (GMT) by
The possibility of electrically tuning the scattering of light from surfaces by dynamically varying their properties is desirable for controllable transparency devices and diffusion filters. As a difference from state-of-the-art approaches where scattering is changed isotropically, this paper presents the first smart-material-based technology enabling electrical modulations in a single or multiple directions, which can be selected dynamically. The effect is achieved from thin soft membranes with transparent PEDOT:PSS coatings, which are electrically deformed along a single or multiple axes, using dielectric elastomer actuation. Anisotropic scattering is induced by electrically tuning the formation of directional surface wrinkles. As a proof of concept, a bi-directional device is obtained by overlapping two 90°-shifted mono-directional layers that can be controlled independently. According to the activation of the layers, light can be scattered along either direction, as well as both of them. Prototypes made of an acrylic elastomer were demonstrated with mono- and bi-directional operations. Devices with a window-to-total area ratio of 1:4 also showed a maximum electrical reduction of optical transmittance from 75% to 4%. This functionality and possible extensions to more than two controllable directions suggest applicability as electrically controllable anisotropic light diffusers for dynamic light shaping, as well as tunable transparency surfaces.

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Chen, Leihao; Busfield, James; Carpi, Federico (2020): Electrically tunable directional light scattering from soft thin membranes. The Optical Society. Collection. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4877967.v1